Unilever Head Office
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With URBAN EDGE
Award of Merit Citation
When a multinational calls upon the architect to help design the brief, and that brief is to help the company realign itself to the contemporary demands of corporate life, then the stakes are high. When the result is not only a tangible change in the corporate culture of that company, but that success draws international interest, then the achievement is not only that of the client, but also of the designers. The project has a privileged site with spectacular views to the Indian Ocean, well exploited to the benefit of all staff by locating shared facilities at this aspect. While the planning is direct and the symmetry initially seems forced, this dissolves as the deployment of internal spaces allows for an integration of environments as a device for building staff solidarity and accessibility to the diverse enterprises of the company. The immense floor-plate is also scaled down through the clerestory lighting to internal wells canopied with steel ‘trees’. Commended is the ingenious solution to the problem of covered external parking, with shadenet disguised by creepers. Landscaping proximate to the building is abstracted into art, and the commercial art of the brands integrated into the interior architecture. The project is conferred with a national award of merit.
All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.